After decades of “suburban sprawl,” Oklahoma City is seeing renewed interest in urban development. But this urban growth brings up land use and development issues, subjects some in the industry say are best dealt with outside the political arena.
This is the idea behind the formation of ULI Oklahoma, part of the Urban Land Institute, an international nonprofit think tank focusing on the responsible use of land.
“What Oklahoma needs is some forum for coming together and discussing these issues outside of kind of the political realm, where things tend to be more confrontational,” said member Blair Humphreys, who started organizing the group in 2006. “We need a place where people can come and share ideas, and really develop strategies for change.”
ULI was supportive of Oklahomans’ efforts to start a local chapter, even setting them up with a consultant to help guide the group toward becoming a district council, Humphreys said. The group was officially recognized as a ULI district council a few months ago, and has around 120 members, including about 25 in its Young Leaders group for people under 35.
“We’re seeing a next generation wanting to make the state a place to call their own. A lot of people are tired of seeing their friends move away and not come back,” said A.J. Kirkpatrick, vice chair of the Young Leaders group, and a planner with the city of Oklahoma City.
The district council recently created four focus committees: ” edge development;
” urban development;
” infrastructure and transportation; and
” river-area development. “Lea Terry